Dear Fellow Survivalist;
The recent devastation of Florida by Hurricane Irma left thousands of homes without power, as people struggled, not only to survive the hurricane, but recover in the aftermath of it. As often happens in the case of hurricanes, the recovery process is much longer and much harder than just surviving the storm. But there was a new twist this time, many Florida residents who had solar panels on their homes, found that they weren’t allowed to use them while the electrical grid was down.
This seems totally absurd on the surface, and definitely seems like a case of the power company paying off some politicians in order to force people to buy power. But there is a good reason, in fact, for the regulation. That is, solar panels connected to a home, which is connected to the grid, will feed power into the grid if the grid is down. That can cause safety issues for repair crews.
The culprit in this drama actually isn’t the electric company, but the solar power companies. These companies don’t create systems that are designed for survival, but rather to provide power to homes during normal times. In an effort to keep their prices down and increase sales, they don’t tell customers that they need a whole house switch or a battery backup.
Basically, they’re selling for one purpose, when their customers may be thinking they’re buying for another. If the customers don’t understand solar power systems, they can find themselves shelling out a lot of money, for something that really isn’t doing what they need.
So, what’s the difference between a solar power system for survival and one for reducing your electric bill?
Basically there are two main differences. The first is installation of a whole house switch. You can buy either automatic or manual ones. The automatic ones are actually designed to be used with a whole house generator, but will work just as well for solar. When the power cuts off, they automatically switch over to the backup power source, whether that is a generator, solar panels or a battery backup system.
The manual version of this switch, which is much cheaper, does the same thing. The only real difference is that you have to physically throw the switch. It doesn’t happen automatically. However, you want to do this quickly, or whatever power you have stored up in your battery bank is going to start going right into the grid, as soon as the power is out. That’s like pouring water into a bottomless well; you’ll run out of water, long before you run out of well.
Of course, if you keep your battery backup totally separate from the grid, which means not having it tied into your home’s electrical system as well. Of course, the problem with this is that your solar panels can’t help reduce your electric bill, if they’re just connected to your battery bank and not to the house.
Unless you run a part of your home’s electrical usage just off the battery bank, totally separate from the home’s normal electrical system. I didn’t want to spend the money to buy a whole house switch and pay an electrician to install it (you can’t install it yourself), so I have a separate electrical system in my home, running off of my solar panels and battery bank. In the case of an emergency,
In the case of an emergency, I can quickly and easily expand the system I have, so that it runs power throughout the house, without it going into the grid. All I have to do, to make this work, is to remove the main breaker from my home’s breaker box and connect the output of my voltage inverter to my home’s electrical system. This will allow the power from my solar panels and stored in my battery bank to power whatever I want.
The only thing you have to be careful about with this, is not drawing too much power from your batteries. Unless you have really big solar panel array, battery bank and voltage inverter, you won’t be able to run everything in your home off of your solar power system and battery backup. You will be able to run some things though, which would put you way ahead of your neighbors.
This would be totally legal, according to Florida’s laws. So I expect that it would be equally legal in other states. More important than that, it gives you a way of going around restrictive regulations, which might keep you from taking care of your family in an emergency.
So, maybe it’s time to look at your emergency power system and the laws in your state, just to make sure that you won’t be caught like the Floridians were, not able to use your own power.
In the mean time, keep your powder dry and your survival equipment close at hand. There are more hurricanes to come.
Chris and Dr. Rich